Whether it's simply a more serious-minded spoof movie, or a legitimately fun thriller, The Faculty is very approachable, extremely self-aware, and a ridiculously fun time. Campy and corny, purposeful or not, director Robert Rodriguez creates a silly and sly little adventure.
You would never guess it by the title, but The Faculty is actually a horror/thriller about a school who is overcome by extraterrestrial staff members. Some of the worried students try to get help, but either no one believes them, or the people they tell are already infected. In order to counteract the infection, of sorts, a group of students create a drug that can destroy any alien.
Ubiquitously classified, the movie really never makes a clear statement as to where it's going or what it's tone is. At times, it's tense and frightening. At others, it becomes campy and dumb. It also can be aware of its silliness and poke fun at it. Then there is the character drama in a search for individual identity. It all is mashed together into a smörgåsbord of elements, some that belong, some that do not.
The elements that don't belong are the odd character moments and the accidental dumbness. The friendships that are 'built' really serve no purpose since all of the students, at one point or another, are accused of being an alien. Who cares what the claim to be? The dumbness, of course, is just dumb and under-nurtured.
The best of the elements are either when it's genuinely scary and gross, or when the characters poke fun not just at the situations, but even at other movies. Take a scene where one guy has to get something out of a car parked outside where the aliens are. The next shot shows two of the students running outside, sneaking under buses as the aliens pass by. One student turns to another and asks, "Why exactly does it take two of us to get to the car?" What a poke at the typical horror cliche.
There are many moments like that that really liven up this otherwise dark film. It has some unnecessary moments, though. The screenwriters tend to knead the plot far too much, doubling over itself again and again, instead of just making their way to the end result. But The Faculty is a lot of fun and completely enjoyable. If you join in the spirit of its ambition, it will make you smile, cringe, laugh, and gag. What a pleasant combination, no?